by Jeff Niesel
A few years ago, local filmmaker Matt Pallotta started thinking about making a movie about making a movie. But he wanted to have a little more experience from which to draw.
“I had the basic premise a couple of years ago but hadn’t gotten my hands dirty enough to make something about independent filmmaking because I had only worked on a couple of small projects,” says Pallotta, who’s produced a couple of independent films and teaches video production at Kent State. “I thought there was a lot of great material from what we experienced. Originally, I wanted to make a mockumentary film like This is Spinal Tap. We started drafting up concepts in late August of 2008 and started filming in early October of 2008”
Set in Northeast Ohio, the resulting web series, The Road to Sundance: On a Shoestring Budget is a mockumentary that centers on George "Lucas" Palmer, a middle-aged guy who cashes out his 401k with the intent of making an indie film he can take to Sundance. George is so clueless, he doesn’t even know what a cinematographer does but he recruits an intern to help him make the film, buys a script and then starts casting actors and actresses by looking at online dating services. He quickly runs out of money and it’s not long before he’s soliciting investors for his misguided film, Where the Sun Sets in Purgatory.
“I can honestly say it took three or four episodes to build the characters,” Pallotta says. “It’s a comedy and you want to laugh and have fun. It also has what good drama stories have. It has on ongoing story and you want to know what happens next. You want to see [George] stumble through the filmmaking process.”
And stumble he does. George buys a camera that doesn’t have a lens and hires a one-eyed cameraman. The story plays itself out in a total of about 20 episodes, and Pallotta says the last two of the series will be up for the month’s end at roadtosundance.com. Then, he hopes to issue the series, along with an outtakes reel, on DVD.
“I’m getting this wrapped before I take a big, big breath and then I’ll start something else,” he says. “I can never sit still for too long.”